In today’s world of early awareness and detection of medical conditions, screening tools have been valuable assets in speeding up intervention. There are screenings for cognitive function, skin cancer, blood pressure, BMI, contagious diseases, genetic conditions. One screening that has been mandated in recent years is hearing in infants. We can now detect possible hearing loss within days of birth.

Tools such as ABR (auditory brainstem response) and OAE (otoacoustic emissions) have been found effective in detecting dysfunction in the hearing system. They are objective; no actual behavioral response is needed from the patient. These can often be administered to sleeping or sedated infants, another benefit. Guidelines have been set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is important to remember that screenings do not diagnose, they identify at-risk patients. Those who pass screenings should feel relief. When a screening is failed, there are always steps to take. False positives are always a possibility. There may be no problem. For example, vernix, which coats a baby’s skin prior to birth, can interfere with results. However, the potential consequences of infant hearing loss cannot be ignored.

For those who fail infant screenings, an evaluation is recommended by three months. We can now be more specific in diagnosing true loss of hearing in infants. We can observe a baby’s responses to sounds. If loss of hearing is diagnosed, early intervention is recommended by six months of age. Why do we start early? We know babies are language sponges. They begin to sort out what they hear as communication long before they speak. If their ability to hear is diminished, they cannot form the basis of spoken communication. Any delay in the process of providing intervention is a delay in your child’s development.

Interventions may include ear surgery, hearing aids, sign language, cochlear implants or other accommodations and modifications. This depends on the outcomes of the evaluations. Modifications to the home and classroom can enhance learning for the child. We should never deprive a child of a chance to communicate and learn.

At Clear Choice Hearing and Balance, we always wish to keep you on a clear path to good hearing and ear health. To learn more about our services and how our team of experts can help you and your loved ones, we invite you to contact us today. We can be reached by phone at our Greece location at 585-723-3440 or Brighton location at 585-342-4327, or by submitting an email through our secure contact page.